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Other names:

Ellence®, Pharmorubicin PFS

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What is Epirubicin?

Epirubicin (Ellence®) is a type of chemotherapy. It works by slowing or stopping the growth of cells. It is usually used in combination with other medicines.

Epirubicin can cause serious heart problems. These problems can occur during therapy or months to years later. Families should tell the care team right away if the patient has a cough, a heartbeat that does not feel normal (such as too fast or too slow), swelling in the arms or legs, shortness of breath, sudden weight gain, tiredness or weakness. The care team may order tests before and during treatment to see if the patient’s heart is working well enough to receive epirubicin.

Patients will have regular blood draws to check blood counts and monitor liver and kidney function. This medicine can cause heart damage, and heart function will be closely monitored.

Epirubicin can cause tissue damage if it leaks from the vein. Patients may have irritation and skin damage at the IV site. Let a caregiver know if there is burning during administration.

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Given as a liquid into a vein by IV

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Possible Side Effects

  • Myelosuppression - low blood counts (may cause increased risk of infection, bleeding, anemia and/or fatigue)
  • Lethargy
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Mucositis
  • Diarrhea
  • Eye pain or irritation
  • Hair loss
  • Rash, itch
  • Change in the normal menstrual cycle
  • Hot flashes
  • Red or orange color of urine
  • Heart problems
  • Change in skin color at the site of radiation treatment (radiation recall)
  • Fertility problems
  • Skin irritation at the IV site
  • Loss of appetite
  • Changes in nails
  • Tumor lysis syndrome

Not all patients who take epirubicin will experience these side effects. Common side effects are in bold, but there may be others. Please report all suspected side effects to your doctor or pharmacist.

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Possible Long-Term or Late Effects

Some patients may experience long-term or late effects of treatment that may continue or develop months or years after treatment ends. Possible late effects due to epirubicin include:

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Tips for Families

Be sure to discuss these and other recommendations with your doctor or pharmacist.

  • Epirubicin can damage the heart. Patients should have ongoing monitoring of cardiac function and watch for signs of heart disease. Heart problems can occur at any time during or after treatment.
  • A doctor may prescribe medicine to reduce nausea and vomiting.
  • If epirubicin is given after radiation therapy, the skin area that was exposed to radiation therapy may become red again (radiation recall).
  • Epirubicin is a type of chemotherapy called an anthracycline. Let a doctor know if there is a history of an allergic reaction to any anthracycline including daunorubicin, doxorubicin, epirubicin, or idarubicin.
  • Sexually active patients should take steps to prevent pregnancy during and after treatment as recommended by their doctor.
  • Patients should tell their doctor if they are pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • Caregivers should follow instructions to avoid contact with patient body fluids, which can contain the drug for 48 hours after it is given.
  • Discontinue cimetidine during treatment with epirubicin.